LEVITICUS 14:1-57 | MARK 6:30-56 | PSALM 40:1-10 | PROVERBS 10:11-12
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The blood of birds and animals was what was needed in order to apply for atonement and cleansing from any defiling skin disease. Failure to do so meant excommunication. And it went beyond a physical separation; it meant a spiritual separation as well. Such was the plight of one who might be so unfortunate so as to be afflicted with a “defiling skin disease”.
And yet, there was a plan and a way to ensure that one had the opportunity for a thorough examination by a priest, and to take specific measures to be accepted back into the community as a “clean” individual — devoid of any contagion.
Many centuries later, we learn of a man who appears quite oblivious to the very many rules and rituals concerning the treatment of those suffering from such sicknesses and disease. His name is Jesus, and he walks among the poor and ordinary people of the day — touching them and allowing them to touch him in order to experience supernatural healing from a myriad of diseases.
Mark continues to provide an account of this extraordinary man’s life, and he notes that when Jesus came into a town and saw the multitudes approach him, he had compassion on them. He had a reputation that preceded him, and yet, he was seldom weary to attend to the physical needs of the people. Even before he sat down to teach and preach about the Kingdom of God at hand, he attended first to their bodily needs of hunger and well-being. The well-known story of the feeding of the five thousand is recorded in today’s passage: two fishes and five loaves is all it took.
If there was any doubt about this miracle-man, one only need follow him around to see the seemingly unceasing string of extraordinary occurrences that surrounded him. Why, the man spoke the word and the raging seas obeyed him. And what’s more, everything he did was literally the stuff miracles are made of — after all, had you ever seen anybody walk on water? Or touch the hem of a garment and receive full and complete healing? Had you ever seen or heard of a lame man being told to pick up his mat and walk?
Who was this man?!
The Psalm for the day is a most beautiful one in which David proclaims unabashedly his deep love and great devotion for his Lord and Redeemer. Would that I might also have the same passion for my Lord and Savior! The reference to the piercing of the ears is one of ancient custom where a slave who was offered his freedom would by choice ask to have his ears pierced so as to willfully signify his desire to be with the master who has already given him his freedom. What a beautiful concept that is!
And David knows this greater truth — despite full knowledge of all the various rituals of blood, burnt, and grain offerings, he knows what God truly desires: a willful and voluntary choice to come to him!
I too pierce my ears for you, my Lord and Redeemer. Psalm 40 offers so many insights into a humble spirit and a steadfast devotion, that I reproduce it here in its entirety:
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.
Finally, Solomon, David’s son and another great and wise king of Israel, offers these words of wisdom for all time:
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
12 Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.